'The Covens Underneath'
I don't own CCS, but I do own the story in this fic and things that are non-CCS related. All the name of places, historical events and other things mentioned, which you don't seem to know IRL, are products of my imagination. Any similarities with the actual thing are purely coincidental.
---: ACT ONE :---
"THE BEGINNING OF AN END"
Chapter One: "An Orphan"
A small tingling sound filled the quiet dark room. It was smooth and light as if cradling the listener in a sweet lullaby. Her eyes were closed; her lips curved in a contented smile. She knew she had been sleeping since she could feel the softness of the pillows on her cheeks while she lay face down on the tenderness of the bed.
Slowly, the lids of her eyes opened. Her vision was blurry for a while, until it started to focus on the things around her. She was too lazy to lift her head and due to this, her view only captured a few details of her surroundings.
Then, there it was again...that faint tingling sound...
'What is that?' she pondered to herself with her eyes half-opened.
The light clinging sound repeated.
'A chime?' she arched her head slightly only to see a small pale hand in front of her.
'This is...?' she twitched. 'My hand..?' she thought of moving her hand and the hand in front of her face moved as well. 'It is my hand...but...why is it...small? Like a child's hand...'
Again, her thoughts were interrupted by the light musical sound. This caused her to glance beyond. Her gaze was greeted of what looked like a reddish window sill. Rosewood, it seemed to be. And farther up, a small chime hung on its frame. There was nothing fancy about the ornament. The usual narrow metal tubes dangled beneath it. Not much decoration, only a new moon carved to hold the top. The tiny gusts of wind from the window played the tune on the chime every now and then. And as it blew, petals flew inside the room; sprinkling her bed with its flowery scent. Her lazy eyes observed the small pinkish petals.
'Young cerise flowers?'
Indeed outside, a blossoming tree stood sturdy. Its deep brown branches caressed the window pane. In each wooden tip, early sprouts of cerise blossoms could be seen.
She slightly frowned, 'Where am I?'
Just then, she heard a loud bang. She blinked, 'What is that noise?' The sound doesn't seem to fit the serene atmosphere of the room.
---insert banging noise here---
---insert noise again here---
Sakura bolted upright to sitting position. Her eyes were wide open in startling response. She clutched the sheets of her bed. It took her a few more minutes until she realize what was happening.
Her shoulders relaxed. "Hoe...I've been dreaming." She titled her head on one side and sighed, "It was that scene again."
Sakura yawned just in time to hear another bang. The sound was not that loud compared to what had been emanated in her slumber. But she could tell that it was the same sound.
As usual, the attic's broken window smashed against the old wooden frame. She lazily stood up from her bed and walked towards the noisy thing and tried to shut it by using a piece of wood to pin the loose locks down. Again, she heaved another sigh.
It had been quite a while since she had that dream. It seemed to be one of those occurring dreams which repeat every now and then. All this time she thought that she had outgrown it.
"Eventually...not," she said out loud.
"Eventually not what?" someone spoke from behind.
Sakura span around. Her emerald eyes lit up in greeting, "Oh hello. Good Morning to you, LinLin-nechan."
The brunette lady stood at the attic's open door. LinLin had been there to watch over her ever since they were kids. Sakura had been the naughty one and the other girl had always ended up cleaning her mess. Now in her early twenties, her strict aura seemed to have grown more influentially strong. Nevertheless, LinLin was the closest thing Sakura ever had to a sister.
"You look tired, Sakura-chan," the young woman observed. "Did anything happen?"
The younger girl gave her a grim look. "Not really. I just woke up in the wrong side of the bed this morning."
"Uff! For crying out loud, this should be the very least day you should be waking with such mood," LinLin walked inside the room. The old wooden floor creaked under her foot as she made her way around the stored old furniture and tapestries in the attic. "This is after all, your 15th birthday!"
"Yeah...yeah...I know," Sakura slumped back down her old bed and buried her face on her worn-out striped sheets. Such contrast to what she had in her dream.
LinLin sighed. Her eyes softened a little. "If you are being like that because of that incident fifteen years ago, didn't I tell you to view it in another way?"
"It is not just any incident, Ne-chan...," Sakura started to say in a small voice; her eyes quivered with the thought. "My birthday is the day that I also lost my only remaining family, and I ended up living in this orphanage."
"Oh, Sakura-chan...," LinLin sat at the foot of Sakura's bed. "It is not your fault, you know. It was just circumstance. There is always a reason why these things happen to us. At least you have an idea who your real mother was. I didn't."
The younger girl glanced at the petite long-haired brunette. "I guess…when you see it that way. I am lucky to at least know, but then again...it is the only consolation I have in this life."
The other female pursed her lips, "I can't believe I am hearing this from the most cheerful girl in the history of Saradik Orphanage!"
Sakura sat up once again. Her legs were tucked beneath her as she faced LinLin, "I'm not perfect, you know. I also have my lonely moments." Her eyes fell on a small picture frame which rested on top of her small bed-side table. It looked plain like the handed-down greasy lamp beside it.
The other lady's shoulder slumped, "And to think that I brought you a present for that." She pointed at the picture frame.
"Really?" Sakura's eyes lit up a little. "I love presents."
LinLin smiled and reached for the old frame. Sakura leaned against the other girl's shoulder as they peered together at the tainted glass. "She was really lovely...," LinLin started to say. "...your mother."
Indeed, the woman smiling back at them from picture was quite beautiful. With long wavy auburn hair and enchanting emerald-green eyes, one would have thought she belonged to a rich family and not a mere baker's daughter.
Nadeshiko, Sakura's mother, turned eighteen when that photo was taken. It was the first season of the year when her mother went to Tetsuroh. She had lived in the small village of Saradik all her life and decided to seek a better future in the city one day. That picture was taken a few weeks after she arrived at the said place. It was sent to inform everyone at her hometown that she was well. She never did come back for quite some time. It was even said that somewhere along her stay in Tetsuroh, she married a fisherman who owned his own boat. Some time a year after, she suddenly appeared back in Saradik...with a child in her womb. She was quiet and never spoke of what happened to her in neither the city nor anything about her husband. Then rumors spread that it seemed she had lost her beloved on a storm at the sea. Everyone sympathized and respected her privacy and did not pursue any more details. They didn't even ask her of her husband's name and let her mourn silently.
Then the fatal day came when she gave birth to a child which caused her life. With the mother dying from childbirth, the orphanage took the baby girl in since she no longer has any living family member. The baby girl was Sakura.
"I wish I am as beautiful as she is," Sakura said to the brunette.
"What are you saying?" The other answered thoughtfully, "You look exactly like her! With shorter hair, of course."
"If I looked exactly like her then how come no one adopted me," Sakura bent her head and let her hair fall down to hide her face. "And don't tell me about my mischief because I made sure I acted properly in front of potential parents."
It was true. Even though, she had an internal reputation of being a playful and stubborn kid, she had always been polite and well-behaved whenever couples visit the orphanage looking for a child to adopt. But for some reason, they would only admire her then end up adopting another child. The result was, Sakura became the oldest girl staying in Saradik Orphanage. The rest of her childhood friends already have new families of their own. Even LinLin was adopted at the age of twelve.
"Even Mistress Sai gave up," she continued.
LinLin gasped, "What makes you think so? Mistress Sai always hoped for the best!"
"Does she really? I don't have anything against Mistress Sai. She had always been good to me. I'm the one who often caused troubles. But look..." Sakura waved her hand in front of her. "...look at where I am. If she still thinks that I could still get adopted, then why was I moved up here? You know as well as I do that if potential parents visit the orphanage, the only place they will go will be the children's quarters. And those quarters can be found below...not here...not in the attic."
"Oh, Sakura-chan...," the other woman placed her arms around the young girl. "Maybe, she likes you too much that she would rather that you help her in admin affairs of the orphanage," LinLin said with a wink.
Sakura blinked up at her, "Admin affairs? But LinLin-nechan...don't you think I am too young for such responsibility? Plus, you need to, at least, finish Day School to have that kind of a job."
There are three phases of study in the country of Mercallis; Preliminary School, Day School and Mastery School. As minimum requirement of the government, a person must at least attend Preliminary School. It was for children ages eight to fourteen. Free schooling was given to students at this stage. They were taught the basics; the essentials needed to make a living plus some emphasis in culture and history. Day School was reserved for children ages fifteen to twenty-one. This level was no longer free. Private institutions existed in the city which provided the education. Students who went to Day School were trained specifically in a certain field of endeavor. They were the ones who would get better jobs upon graduation. You will never see ordinary people attending Day School. Usually middle-classed to high-classed families pursued this specific education. Mastery School, on the other hand, could only be afforded by the rich high-classed families. It was an optional level after Day School on whether or not you want to be someone important in society. And the cost? ...SKY-HIGH.
"Well maybe she decided to groom you for the position? Ne?" the lady tried her best to comfort Sakura.
But the girl could only give a small laugh, "You're just trying to cheer me up. Even if Mistress Sai has taken such liking of me, I doubt she would fish out funds from the orphanage in order to pay for my tuition to go to Day School. I am simply not the special...plus...I would turn down the offer. The orphanage will need the money more on food and clothes. I won't agree on it having wasted on a thing such as my tuition."
"You are too nice," LinLin remarked as she patted the girl's head.
Sakura made a cute pouting face. "Ha! Don't be too comfortable with me. Are you forgetting that I am the monster which often creates havoc in this house!" she said jokingly; her emerald eyes sparkled in delight; a contrast from her sad demeanor a while ago.
The brunette laughed, "Now that's the brat I know." Then, she took something out her coat and gave it to Sakura. "Here," she leaned forward and kissed the girl's forehead. "Happy Birthday."
Sakura smiled up warmly and accepted the gift.
"The wrapping is not much of a disguise." LinLin placed one hand behind her head apologetically, "I am not good with such things. It's a fancier picture frame for your mother's picture."
"Hoe! It's okay. I think Okasan's going to be happier with this one," she nodded reassuringly.
"Well, I have to go now. I only sneaked out from father's (her foster father) store."
"I understand. Thank you for remembering me, ne-chan."
"For what it is worth," the young lady glanced back before leaving. "...just be happy on what you have now. Do not lurk on the past, but instead...do your best now and hope for a happy future."
"Hai!" Sakura said over-enthusiastically; raising one hand.
"Good," with one final smile, LinLin closed the attic door behind her.
After the older girl was gone, Sakura heaved another sigh. The lady was right. No need for her to lurk in the past. She smiled at the equally smiling face of her mother in the picture. She unwrapped LinLin's gift and found it to be a metallic-styled picture frame. It was not an expensive gift but it was worth more since she knew that her "one-chan" tried saving to buy it for her. The family who adopted LinLin was also an ordinary family, but still it was better to have a family to belong to than to have none at all.
Sakura shook her head. No...no...must look on ahead towards a happier future. She balled one hand into a fist with a determined look and nodded to herself.
Moments later, she had successfully freed her mother's photo from the worn-out frame. She couldn't help but to stare at the old picture.
The city of Tetsuroh, unlike the mountainous Saradik, has full access to the sea. Hence, at the backdrop of the picture of her mother, the ocean was evident. It sparkled against the hot blazing sun. Nadeshiko was standing on top of a stone bridge, and was slightly leaning to her right side, probably due to the wind which also blew her hair in front of her. She was wearing a lovely cream sundress with floral print. Inside her arms she cradled a small white puppy who seemed to be happily barking. Sakura flipped the picture and read the description at the back for the nth time.
'Me and My Love'
She giggled. Her mother was an animal-lover. Sakura inherited the same fondness from her. Mistress Sai often scolded her for bringing home stray animals. Now as she looked at the puppy in the picture, she couldn't help but squeal in its cuteness. She particularly loved dogs. Majority of the strays she kept were canines.
Then, a memory drifted across the emerald-eyed girl's mind. It was an image of a huge black dog which once stood majestically against the icy white grounds of the forest beyond the outer rims of Saradik eleven years ago. The furry dog that despite its cold posture, she remembered finding warm.
"I wonder...whatever happened to that dog," she pondered. "I wonder if it was even real." Then, she chuckled. "Maybe I was dreaming again back then as well."
Another image floated inside her head. Scenes from her dream that morning gave her a slightly disturbing feeling which made her frown. LinLin interrupted her thoughts earlier. Although, she had confided the older lady for a number of adolescent issues, there were still things she had kept to herself. And one of those was this dream of hers. When she was still small, she remembered dreaming of it every now and then. Nothing really happened but the same thing over and over again and as she grew older, it became less vivid up to the point that she no longer dreamt of it.
But why now? Why suddenly now...again? What does that dream mean anyway?
Her eyes fell on the books stacked on her small bed's headboard. She crawled towards it and pulled out an almost tattered book.
'Legends and Myths of Mercallis'the title read.
Sakura opened the book until she found the page she wanted to see.
'The Flower of Cerise'
A mythical flower that blossoms from an old tree that is known to have existed ever since the beginning of time. Young buds are known to have a light pink color and as time goes by, these buds blossoms to crimson red flowers. Ancient people of Mercallis used these flowers to welcome the new century, and most of the time, to celebrate their date of birth of 800 years.
A passing from one legion to another for rule over the forgotten ones...the damned.
The Cerise Tree can survive any type of weather, as long as the elements are strong and powerful. It had always been used by poets and storytellers of folklore due to its enchanting form.
(Illustration of possible features below)
Sakura stared at the illustration. A branch with pinkish buds filled the page. Same ones which often starred in her dream.
"This is ridiculous. This flower doesn't even exists in real life. Neither does the tree," she said out loud while grasping the book. "Even if does, it is impossible for a single plant to survive in any kind of weather. It looks too delicate to get passed a hailstorm...and besides...what kind of ridiculous folklore is that? 'Celebrate their date of birth of 800 years'…," she quoted. "How can someone live for that long?" She shook her head once more and stated out loud, "Simply ridiculous! I must have been reading too much tales." She closed the book and started placing her mother's picture inside the new frame.
She slightly twitched when a rebuttal thought poked her mind.
If she only got the idea of the cerise flowers from folklore books, then how come she had dreamt of it in an early age…
…when she doesn't even know how to read at all?
--Somewhere in the city of Tetsuroh--
"Do we have an understanding, Sarabusa-san?"a man seated behind a huge oak desk asked with both of his fingers clasped together in front of his face. He seemed to be in his late 30's. His elbows supported him as he leaned forward. His glasses glimmered from the stray of sunlight inside the vast room. His brown hair was neatly held together. He completely reflected the authority, strictness and formality of his office which was filled with different kinds of artifacts and rows of bookshelves. The floor was made from some kind of black stone which gave a dark feeling in the room, accentuated by the deep blue velvet drapes that adorned the tall windows.
"Of course, my Lord," a plump man with a graying beard started to rise from his seat. "I don't know what you will gain in this move but you have my loyalty so I will do as you wish."
"I am glad," the man behind the desk said.
"I shall visit the small village of Saradik in the outer rims and execute this task of yours," the plump man placed a black top hat on his head. "But, I shall go there tomorrow, because for now I need to rest. The sun had risen beyond our safe perimeter."
"I fully understand," the other nodded.
The plump man smirked exposing a white fang. "I just hope you really know what you are doing," and with that he left the room.
"Does this mean...," a fair girl suddenly stepped out of the shadows. Her long raven hair framed her face. Her expression was gentle and she smiled as she asked the older man. "I'm going to see her again, Oto-sama?"
The man behind the desk turned to her and smiled apologetically, "I'm afraid so."
Time seemed to pass as both grew silent. The only thing that could be heard was the ticking of an antique grandfather clock at the side of the room.
"Well," the man stood up. "I think we should be going home, too."
"Hai," the raven-haired girl replied timidly.
Father and daughter walked towards the huge oak door and stepped out to the hall. As the door closed behind them, the nameplate which glinted a prominent metallic inscription, read profusely,
(Up NEXT Chapter Two: "Tetsuroh Day School")
Hi! Yes...yes I know...This is such a short chapter. My apologies, I was trying to entwine my writing mood to the new story. Just to get a feel of it. The next chapter will be longer. Oh and all of you might noticed that I changed the title of Chapter One and added an "ACT" feature. I don't like the original name of the chapter so I've changed it...plus I've decided to add something in the storyline which I haven't thought of before hence the change in the structure P
Once again, I thank you all of those who had reviewed/read. Wow, I'm surprised to see new names who actually like 'incorporated' that's why they decided to read 'covens' as well. Now, I believe that 'incorporated' truly has many fans. I'm so happy.
And oh...the story will be focused in their teenage years. I just used the little kids in the prologue. A prologue is just a prologue after all )
Well...got to go for now. I need to write the next chappie of 'Incorporated'. Must not keep you all waiting that long.
Once again...please...let me know what you think. R & R!